Kung Fu Panda 2

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 9, 2015

The Beauty and the Beast-like prologue doesn’t register, narratively or emotionally or anything. Who is this peacock guy? Who cares? The film never recovers from this uncertain opening, which is a real pity, given how very good the first one was. By the end, after a strained to the point of annoying withholding of expositional details and background and such, we discover that and how the peacock does relate. But the origin questions still don’t register at all. This may be because it appears that it’s not theme or psychology or myth that interests the filmmakers, but simply setting up for yet another sequel. This seems, this is, quite cynical. Shouldn’t they have got this one right first?

Also, actual characters from the last film become merely cameos in this one, pretty well across the board. Where are those hard won, beautifully rendered relationships? I guess there’s Po’s dad, but that situation is finally pretty one note, pretty annoying. Mr. Jack Black is pretty great, though, and we don’t lose much of the important stuff from the first movie about uncertain young people facing challenges, even their own limitations, and coming out on top. Also, this technology is really good at facial expressions, and how they relate to emotional realities. Plus, wham-bang animation, particularly in the action sequences. These are extremely kinetic, but still quite coherent. That’s not easy to do, so congratulations to them.